The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance by Catherine Ryan Hyde

When I discussed The Higher Power of Lucky, I mentioned that, although the concepts of alcoholism and abandonment are alien to some children, to some children they are all too real. I think The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance is the natural next step for some of those kids. Cynnie, a thirteen-year-old girl, struggles to take care of her brother and herself as her mother succumbs to alcoholism. When her grandparents take her younger brother, Cynnie is left alone with her mother, and starts drinking to help drown out her problems. After an accident, she is forced by the court into AA, where she begins to learn about forgiveness, making amends, and the choices that we make in life.

This was very clearly one of those “issue books” that I sometimes read when I was a teenager. I remember that Christian books were the worst about this – in one school year, the main character would have friends dealing with every possible issue: alcoholism, drug abuse, anorexia, teen sex and pregnancy . . . I once told my mom that my high school life wasn’t as exciting as the ones people had in those books. And I didn’t mean it as a compliment. So, while I chafed a bit at the setup for this book, fearing that it would be cheesy, in the end, it won me over with how well-executed it was and how well Cynnie’s recovery was handled. She hit “rock bottom” earlier in the book than I would have guessed, which gave her plenty of time to actually start sobering up, apologizing to the people around her, and making changes. I liked that as much time was spent on her recovery as was spent on her downward spiral, and I especially liked the emphasis that was placed on Cynnie’s ability to choose a different path than the one her mother had chosen.

I have never read any of this author’s other books, which include Pay it Forward (I did see that movie). Based on the deft handling of this story (which could have been cheesy but just managed to avoid it), I’d be interested to check out another of her books.

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